Family and friends of murdered Israeli student Aiia Maasarwe remain mired in grief ahead of the 21-year-old’s funeral.
Ms Maasarwe’s body was returned to her hometown of Baqa Al-Gharbiyye, northern Israel, ahead of the ceremony on Wednesday afternoon local time.
Mourners and well-wishers were seen gathering near the sandstone walls of Aiia’s old school while relatives cried in solidarity in the family’s home.
The student was killed in Melbourne‘s northern suburb of Bundoora last week when she was on her way back to her student accommodation. She had only been living in the city for six months after moving from Shanghai.
Ms Maasarwe’s sudden and tragic death shocked her tight-knit community, a densely populated area of about 30,000 people who have hung black banners across the town, reading: ‘God have mercy on Aiia.’
Her coffin will be carried to the local mosque after it arrived in a blue and white ambulance, where prayers will be held for her and her family. As many as 20,000 people are expected to attend.
Scroll down for video
Family and friends of murdered Israeli student Aiia Maasarwe remain mired in grief ahead of the 21-year-old’s funeral
Ms Maasarewe’s body was returned to her hometown of Baqa Al-Gharbiyye, northern Israel, ahead of the ceremony on Wednesday afternoon local time
Mourners and well-wishers were seen gathering near the sandstone walls of Aiia’s old school while relatives cried in solidarity in the family’s home
Ms Maasarwe’s sudden and tragic death shocked her tight-knit community, a densely populated area of about 30,000 people
The student was killed in Melbourne’s northern suburb of Bundoora last week when she was on her way back home
Near the family’s front gate, relatives and neighbours had hung signs in Arabic saying ‘Stop picking our flowers’
Teenagers from the community were seen following the light wood casket through the town, displaying banners with heartfelt messages.
One of the banners thanked the Australian Arabic Community for their solidarity.
In front of her family home, a message reading ‘stop cutting our flowers’ was displayed. The family said the message is a plea for violence against young women to stop.
Another, written in Arabic, simply read ‘grief’.
Aiia’s father Saeed accompanied the mahogany coffin that carried his daughter from Melbourne, before following her down the street.
Two relatives stood with him as authorities and security officers followed.
Mr Maasarwe said: ‘I just want to thank everyone for coming and supporting us.’
Aiia’s grandmother added: ‘Everyone protect your children.’
Aiia (pictured) was killed on her way back to her student accommodation from a comedy club in Melbourne’s north last week
The man charged with her murder, 20-year-old Codey Herrman (pictured), will reappear in court in June this year
Aiia’s funeral is planned for Wednesday afternoon local time in Israel. Pictured is a woman waiting in front of the family home
Teenagers carry a banner through streets of Baqa al-Gharbiya thanking the Australian Arabic Community for their solidarity
Thousands of mourners took to the streets of Baqa al-Gharbiya ahead of Aiia’s funeral, which is being held on Wednesday
Mourners cry as the coffin carrying Arab-Israeli student Aiia Maasarwe is marched through the streets of northern Israel
Aiia arrived at her home in a dark mahogany coffin after being flown in from Tel Aviv Airport. Inside the home, she was moved to a simple casket made of light wood and draped in a carpet.
The crowd made a slow march of solidarity to Al-Tzarat Mosque where prayers were to be held. A slow procession planned though the streets to the cemetery where Aiia will be buried will follow.
Students at Aiia’s school were seen wearing shirts that read her name in Arabic. A billboard with Aiia’s smiling face was also erected in her honour. It reads: ‘To the gardens of God.’
Aiia was killed on her way home from a comedy club last Tuesday night in Melbourne’s north. She had been on the phone to her sister at the time, who says she heard her scream.
Her body was found by a passer-by the next morning in the suburb of Bundoora, a short distance from where she studied language at La Trobe University.
Codey Herrman, 20, was arrested and charged in relation to the murder shortly after. He is being remanded in custody and due to reappear in court in June this year.
Teenagers hold banners with Arabic writing. The banner on the right reads: ‘Killing the dream, killing education, killing ambition, killing humanity’
A billboard along the streets of Baqa al-Gharbiya, erected in Aiia’s honour, reading: ‘To the gardens of God’
The young woman’s death has devastated the tight-knit community of about 30,000 people
Municipal offices were closed on Wednesday in Baqa El Gharbiye to allow locals to attend the funeral and pay their respects
Women cry as Aiia’s body is carried through the streets to the local mosque, where prayers are due to be held
A slow procession from the mosque to the cemetery where Aiia will be laid to rest will take place after the ceremony